Injunction Against OnePlus Vacated: Del HC Advises Caution While Granting Orders Without Hearing the Other Side

152If someone were to study injunctions and the law applicable to them, the SEP wars raging on in the Delhi High Court would provide some confusing perspectives. We had blogged a while ago about the injunction granted against OnePlus in a suit initiated by Micromax for the prevention of the breach of an exclusive license agreement with Cyanogen for the CyanogenMod OS. OnePlus appealed this before the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court which vacated the ad-interim injunction.

Quite aptly, the court notes that there are many aspects of the dispute that require pleadings to be presented, an opportunity for which was not granted to OnePlus. The Court notes that the termination of the agreement between OnePlus and Cyanogen, the exact nature of the goods/software covered by the agreement, the question as to whether damages would be a sufficient remedy for breach, etc., are questions that have to be supported by detailed pleadings based on law and fact. Only upon a perusal of these pleadings would a judge be able to decide on the application, considering that these often involve complex questions of law and fact.

While this in itself is extremely heartening for the court to note, it proceeds however to make a set of observations that are even more remarkable. I will reproduce them here verbatim for full effect. J. Nandrajog writes:

An ad-interim injunction is normally issued when a very strong prima-facie case is made out by the plaintiff and the injury to the plaintiff is writ large if the defendant is not restrained from doing the activity which causes the injury to the plaintiff. In such a case the balance of convenience would obviously be in favour of the plaintiff. Since interim injunctions affect the right of a defendant, the principle of natural justice would warrant the defendant to be heard before an order adverse to the defendant’s right is passed. A delicate balance has to be struck between the right of the plaintiff and the right of the defendant at the stage of granting an ad – interim injunction. Only if a Court were to find that so grave and so irreparable is the injury that even a day’s delay cannot be brooked, and so strong is the prima facie case made out, only then would a Court be justified in granting an ad-interim injunction and thereafter proceeding to consider whether to confirm the same or not after hearing the defendant. It would be a situation akin to a post decisional hearing.” [Emphasis mine]

With all the controversy raging on about ex-parte injunctions in the smartphone cases and with Prof. Shamnad’s post here arguing that ex-parte injunctions have become the norm, the court sure sets encouraging precedent. This paragraph if applied consistently, lays down that the burden of proof for grant of an ex-parte ad interim injunction would be extremely high in order to prove a prima facie case. The approach that the court adopted in Xiaomi’s injunction order would definitely not meet this standard. The court also displays a marked disregard for the approach of seeking such urgent remedies without accepting pleadings from the other side, with language like, “It appears that counsel for Micromax literally breathed down the neck of the learned Single Judge to hear arguments on IA No. 24885/2014, prayer wherein was opposed by OnePlus aggressively.” This approach of the HC is definitely encouraging.

The court ruled that the order of the SJ be set aside and that OnePlus was to submit its written submissions within two weeks. The matter was listed before the Single Judge on the 7th of January, next year.

Read the text of the decision here.

Hat tip to Sandeep for pointing us towards this order.

Thomas J. Vallianeth

Thomas is a final year law student at the National Law University, Jodhpur pursuing a B.Sc. LL.B. (IP Hons.) course. His first exposure to IP law was at a workshop that he attended in High School and ever since then, he has pursued a keen interest in the field. However, his real interests lie in the interfaces between Technology Law and IP, with an active interest in the Open Source movement.

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